OPPONENTS have made their final statements in a long-running planning battle that could be critical to the future development of Westhoughton.

The inquiry into Bolton Council’s decision to refuse an application for a new housing estate near the Chequerbent Roundabout drew to a close.

The decision of the inquiry is expected to have major implications for future development around Westhoughton — including larger plans for 1,700 houses in Chequerbent, building on the Hulton Park Estate and the Westhoughton Bypass.

In its closing statement, the council defended the planning committee’s decision in November 2015 to refuse the application the 300-home proposal for the land by Lee Hall.

Ruth Stockley, representing the council at the town hall hearing, said there would be increased traffic, road safety issues and the conflict that could arise with the emerging development plan for the area.

She said: "The development of the wider site will need to provide highway infrastructure through the site from the Chequerbent Roundabout to form a Westhoughton bypass given the significant congestion already experienced on the local highway network at peak times.

"The bypass is not merely required to bring forward the wider area of land to the south of the appeal site but also to relieve the longstanding congestion to the area.

"In order to ensure the proper planning of the area, it is vital that the Westhoughton Bypass comes forward at the earliest possible opportunity to address existing levels of congestion and to accommodate development proposed in the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework.

"Its ultimate design must not be constrained by the proposals. In that regard, the appellant has not demonstrated that the bypass will not be prejudiced, thereby precluding the development of the wider area.

"Constraining the ultimate design of the junction of the bypass with Chequerbent Roundabout is contrary to proper planning and could ultimately prejudice significant development which ought to be brought forward on a comprehensive basis.

"In conclusion, the Council’s view is that due to resulting harm identified, the proposals do not amount to sustainable development. The serious adverse impacts do significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits of the proposals."

But Giles Cannock, representing the appellant, argued that the new spine road, that would be created with the development, would help to improve congestion in the area.

He also lauded the socioeconomic benefits of the plans, particularly the contribution it would make to the council’s housing supply requirement for the borough, which he believes is short by 1,547 homes.

He said: "Under the National Planning Policy Framework, the local authority is required to demonstrate a five year supply of housing with a 5% buffer.

"The shortfall of 1,547 is against a constrained figure. We are really getting nowhere near meeting the objectively assessed housing need for this borough.

"It is inevitable that this site will be required to meet the housing need in that location. It is a case of when and not if for this site.

"In April 2015, it was revealed that the council needs to build 1,134 homes per year to meet the requirement. It is unanswerable that this core strategy has failed to produce homes. There must be an immediate step change in housing in this council.

"The impact of the proposal is not severe. The impact of the proposal is beneficial."

Frances Mahoney, Government planning inspector, will make the final decision on the application.